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❝ Cities are about people and particularly about the way they bring people together ❞

Jane Jacobs



In 1985 I spent a summer in a medieval hill town. The energy and street activity of this Umbrian town intrigued me, and at the time it was completely foreign to my American experience. There was a public space exuberance that I rarely witnessed in my home towns. The streets had a kind of 24 hour clock of events, where different people would inhabit the same space throughout the day, but for different reasons.  Always these activities focused on social exchange. What I discovered was magical and since then I’ve been determined to unravel its mystery.  It’s now clear to me that public space and society are inseparable.

There is an organic quality about a medieval hill town, shaped by the confluence of topography and humanity.  Its character and attributes are intensely human. Today conditions for city making have drastically changed, driven by invention and accommodation for convenience. Technology now allows us to shop, work and play 24/7 without ever leaving our living room.  This change has dramatically altered peoples expectations about where, why and what they do, except one thing: the human desire to be social.   To be sure, no matter what technology or invention brings to society, the fundamental need for social exchange remains as important as it was for medieval hill towns 1,000 years ago. We have only lost our understanding in making these places, but the human desire still exist.

Today with this experience and decades of practice we know that people attract other people. As a result, we are committed to making places where people experience vital qualities that establish a foundation for social exchange. The best places establish a “living room for the community,” an experience where people find comfort, inspiration and a moment for both planned and serendipitous interaction with others. These qualities were essential in the making of medieval hill towns and remain today at the core of all successful cities. We firmly believe that this approach, not only establishes more meaningful communities for people, but also assures sustainable returns for its investors.


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